Lake Ontario boat race continues despite record high water

Local News

“This weekend we’re having the scotch bonnet light race,” said the Genesee Yacht Club’s flag officer Rob Reisch. 

The race is across Lake Ontario to Canada and back. The race is in its 48th year and there have been some bumps along the way. The race was canceled in 2017 because of high water. “The high water occurred before we could get the boats in the water,” said Reisch. 

This year, boats were put in earlier, but the water was still a major issue. Flooding started to become a problem a few weeks later than it did in 2017. Once it reached record levels, a decision needed to be made. “There’s the other side of the coin of those that are like ‘How are you doing this race?’” 

After some debate, the race is on. “The boats don’t realize what’s going on with the flooding near the shore,” said Reisch. 

The number of competitors has dropped dramatically compared to when the lake levels were much closer to average in 2018.  

The most difficult part for boaters is getting into their boats with flooded docks. The other threat is debris, like trees that could be sitting just underneath the water. “If it’s a light wind day you can see birds standing on the water. They’re not standing on the water, they’re standing on a log.” 

Kevin Riley is the Chairman of the race this year and has been an integral part in making sure the race not only happens with high waters but that the racers stay safe during the event. 

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